---- Four faces hovered over literature books Monday in surroundings
seemingly too quiet for a high school class.
students said the quiet at the Pala Learning Center on the Pala
Indian Reservation helps them make up credits they fell behind on
while attending Fallbrook High School.
Greg Fleming and the Pala Band of Mission Indians are now in their
sixth year of providing high school education on the reservation
through the Fallbrook Union High School District.
Bridget Eagelton, 16, said she used to attend Fallbrook High nearly
every day, but her social life got in the way of learning. The other
three students also said they previously attended Fallbrook High,
but experienced an array of difficulties.
just didn't do my homework," Bridget said Monday after reading
an excerpt from the screenplay, "A Raisin in the Sun."
"It's kinda nice here. I'm not sure if I'll go back to the
started at the center last year after her mom took her out of Fallbrook
teacher) being able to answer all my questions helped me learn more
here than I ever did at high school," she said, adding she
does miss some things. "My best friend is there and we want
to have our senior year together. But I'm not sure what I'll do."
its inception, 45 students have graduated from the program under
the auspices of the district's alternative Ivy High School. Classes
are taught at the Pala Learning Center, which provides a library
to the community with tutorial services, along with a computer lab,
and houses the tribe's educational offices.
students are now enrolled in the program, but only four attended
school on Monday. Fleming said today's Veterans Day holiday may
have accounted for the low turnout since all his students attended
class last week.
are my dedicated students," Fleming said. Two students looked
up and smiled; the other two smiled while continuing to read.
district pays the salary for the teacher and supplied some computers
in the library. It also provides $80 per student for classroom supplies,
a district official said. The tribe pays for the facilities and
utilities, some supplies, and educational equipment such as a TV.
year, the Pala students moved from a class inside the center to
a modern $100,000 relocatable building complete with bathrooms,
paid for with a grant.
is a really nice classroom," said Fleming, formerly a Spanish
teacher at the high school.
Musick of the La Jolla Band of Mission Indians directs the tribe's
education programs. She said opening the Pala Casino in 2001 made
a stipend available to high school graduates only.
I said, 'Thank you,' " she said. "That at least encourages
them to finish high school."
casino also provides full college scholarships for tribal members
provided the students stay in good standing. Musick said she has
40 such scholarship applications now in hand, about twice the number
she received last year.
glad to see Indian people wanting to pursue higher education,"
she said. "Some get that per capita (annual payments made to
tribal members) and their dreams go out the window."
incentives and comfortable surroundings of the center don't eliminate
all the problems tribal students face. Fleming says he works hard
to keep the kids coming to school, but some simply disappear.
supposed to focus on the ones that show up," he said. "You've
got some successes and I focus on that."